As a rewards program, AIR MILES allows you to collect rewards on your day to day purchases from over 120 different partners.

Want to maximize your miles? AIR MILES offers 2 tiers to help make even more out of the program:

  • Gold status and
  • Onyx status.

In particular, Onyx status gets you the most out of your miles, whether you’re redeeming for travel or merchandise.

Here’s everything AIR MILES Onyx status provides, plus how you can get it.

Related: How I Earned 11,172 AIR MILES In 1 Year

AIR MILES Onyx benefits

From increased reward value to exclusive benefits, Onyx status takes your miles even higher.

Improved flight rewards

One of the best Onyx benefits is getting access to improved flight rewards. You’ll get:

  • a greater selection of flights,
  • the ability to book select flights using up to 40% fewer miles, and
  • 10% discount on accompanying cash fares when booked together with a reward flight on Air Canada and WestJet (also available to Gold Members).

The greater selection of flights addresses a sore spot many people have for AIR MILES rewards, namely that it can be hard to find availability of reward flights.

The 40% fewer miles needed is definitely a major perk – it can get you some major miles savings for your travel redemption.

But there’s a catch…There’s no information saying what flights are available that qualify for the discount. You’ll need to go hunting to see what flights you could get for 40% fewer miles.

We looked at a variety of different flights leaving Toronto to various destinations, and couldn’t find a single flight that gave a 40% mile discount. So while this is a great benefit, it may be difficult to take full advantage of.

The last one (also available to Gold collectors), lets you save money on an accompanying cash flight when you book one ticket using your AIR MILES.

AIR MILES Personal Shopper

If you’re the type of person who loves getting free merchandise with your AIR MILES, having Onyx status will let you stretch your miles even more.

Many items are available for discounts of up to 20%. There are select deals that require 40% fewer miles as well (unlike flights, these ones are advertised on the merchandise page). Here’s an example:

AIR MILES Onyx example merchandise deal

But the basic merchandise catalogue isn’t the only way you can use your miles. Being an Onyx member means you get access to the Personal Shopper Service.

This service lets you get almost anything you want, even if it’s not in the merchandise catalogue.

In fact, AIR MILES states they were able to get someone a brand new Mercedes for their miles. The only limit to what you can get is the size of your AIR MILES bank.

And there’s no cost to using the service either. It’s all part of being an Onyx collector.

Access to exclusive events

Want to experience something you won’t forget? Onyx collectors get access to exclusive events such as wine tastings, fine dining experiences, as well as celebrity meet and greets.

Onyx collectors also get up to 20% off seasonal activities, like golfing and spa visits.

Access to priority customer service

Finally, if you ever find yourself needing to call AIR MILES customer service, Onyx collectors have their own dedicated number so you’ll be given first priority when you call.

The number to call is 1-844-399-ONYX (6699).

How To Get Onyx Status

So how do you get Onyx status? All you need to do is collect 6,000 miles in a calendar year. But that can seem like a lot of AIR MILES to earn in one year…And no, just earning at the typical base rate of 1 mile per $20 doesn’t make the cut. Just to earn a 1,000 miles this way requires you to spend roughly $1,667 per month at AIR MILES sponsors.

You’ll have to come up with a new gameplan.

But don’t worry – here’s a starter’s guide for getting there.

Take advantage of major AIR MILES promotions

Taking advantage of AIR MILES promotions such as Shop The Block and Mega Miles will give your miles bank a serious boost.

In the past year, these 2 promotions would have given you 3,000 miles on their own, half the total you need. And that doesn’t include the other bonus miles the sponsors gave out as well.

Bonus offers from sponsors

Many sponsors also offer bonus miles on select products or as part of spending a minimum amount.

Logging in to your AIR MILES account will show where you can earn bonus miles while you’re out shopping.

AIR MILES credit cards

To put you over the top, an AIR MILES credit card can earn you the miles you need to go the rest of the way.

The best part is welcome bonuses count towards your status as well. Here are our favourite AIR MILES cards:

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Base Earn Rate Annual fee and income requirements Apply Now
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard Up to 3,000 miles, first year free (terms) 1 mile per $10 * $120 annual fee
* 80K personal/150K household income requirements
Apply Now
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard Up to 800 miles (terms) 1 mile per $20 * No annual fee
* No income requirements
Apply Now
Amex AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card Up to 3,500 miles (terms) 1 mile per $10 * $120 annual fee
* No income requirements
Apply Now
Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card Up to 3,800 miles (terms) 1 mile per $15 * $299 annual fee
* No income requirements
Apply Now

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

The best AIR MILES card right now is the .

Why this card? First, it comes with the best sign-up bonus of any AIR MILES card of up to 3,000 miles:

  • 1,000 after your first purchase and
  • another 2,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Then, earn 1 mile for every $10 you spend on the card, plus double miles on car rentals with National Car and Alamo. These are the highest earn rates of any personal AIR MILES card.

You’ll also get the first year free.

Want more? It also comes with some great perks. The best one is a 15% discount on the number of miles required for any flight within Canada and the U.S., giving every mile you earn even more value.

This card will also give you airport lounge access through LoungeKey, as well as 2 free passes per year.

And with 14 (out of 16) types of insurance available, you can travel worry free as well.

If you won’t settle for anything less than the best, this is the card for you.

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

For an AIR MILES card that has no annual fee, the is a good alternative.

Earn a sign-up bonus of up to 800 miles – 400 after the first purchase and another 400 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.

And this card will let you earn 1 mile for every $10 spent at select sponsors, plus 1 mile for every $20 spent everywhere else.

For no annual fee, you’ll get a good sign-up bonus and earn up to 1 mile for every $10 spent.

American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card

But BMO isn’t the only issuer of AIR MILES credit cards, Amex has a pretty great lineup as well. And the best one they issue is the .

The best part about it? It has the highest earn rates of any AIR MILES credit card:

  • 1 mile per $5 spent on gas, groceries, restaurants, and transit purchases (up to $30,000 annually), and
  • 1 mile per $10 spent.

No other AIR MILES card comes close to offering 1 mile per $5 spent on essentials like groceries and restaurants.

It also has a terrific welcome bonus of up to 3,500 miles:

  • 1,700 miles after you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months,
  • 150 miles for every month you spend $500 in the first 6 months, and
  • another 150 miles for every month you spend $1,000 in the first 6 months.

For a standard annual fee of $120, it will add the most miles to your bank.

Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card

Looking for a shortcut to Onyx status?

Simply have the in your wallet and Onyx status will be yours as long as you have the card. There’s no minimum amount of miles you have to earn either.

But it doesn’t end there. First, you’ll earn up to 3,800 AIR MILES as a welcome bonus – the biggest bonus of any AIR MILES card.

However, it does have slightly lower earn rates than the – 1 mile for every $10 spent at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and AIR MILES sponsors, plus 1 mile for every $15 you spend everywhere else.

But what really sets this card apart are the perks. Here’s some of what this card offers in addition to automatic Onyx status:

  • annual companion voucher worth up to 1,700 miles,
  • waived AIR MILES administration fees for reward flight bookings,
  • AIR MILES FlexFly,
  • ability to use your miles to book business class seats, and
  • Priority Pass membership with 4 free visits.

The first 3 are particularly noteworthy. The companion voucher is essentially 1,700 free AIR MILES every year. Simply book a rewards flight for one, and get the 2nd ticket for up to 1,700 less miles.

The waived administration fees are also a nice touch. These are typically $15 per round trip ticket for flights within North America, saving a little cash on your rewards flights.

And finally, the AIR MILES FlexFly will let you use your miles to book flights not available within the AIR MILES program. Simply call the AIR MILES concierge line to use this option. The best part is FlexFly will get you a guaranteed value for your AIR MILES – 770 AIR MILES is always worth $100.

It does have an annual fee of $299, but will allow you to make the most out of your AIR MILES when it comes to flight redemptions.

Want to see more AIR MILES cards? Our best AIR MILES cards page has more AIR MILES cards for you to consider.

To summarize

Getting AIR MILES Onyx status will help you take your miles even higher.

And while not easy to get, using the right strategies will make it easier.

Does Onyx status interest you?

Do you already have Onyx status and have an experience to share?

Let us know in the comments below.